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Anything but ‘pro-immigrant’: Krikorian in his own words (Updated)

Aaron Patrick Flanagan • Jun 09, 2015

“Low-Immigration, Pro-Immigrant”: Nothing better captures the disingenuousness of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) than its own tag-line.

As the executive director and chief spokesperson for the self-identified ‘think-tank’ since 1995, Mark Krikorian is both the heart and the voice of this disingenuousness. Understanding that most journalists, researchers, elected officials, and other parties will never experience Krikorian or his staff up-close, CIS ultimately benefits from the speed of the news cycle and the need for a dissenting opinion on immigration policy and immigrants in the United States. For this reason, Krikorian and his staff are quoted nationwide hundreds and hundreds of time yearly.


Although Krikorian has proven to be especially adept at calibrating his rhetoric based on the outlets and the audiences listening, a full picture of Krikorian’s writings and opinions capture his and CIS’s duplicitous, disingenuous nature. To illustrate this, the research staff here at the Center for New Community has created a timeline of quotes from Krikorian’s blog and elsewhere to reveal the true Krikorian.

The timeline begins shortly before President Obama’s announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, an action meant to protect undocumented young people who have grown up in our country. We chose that date because Krikorian and CIS are today fighting to revoke the new and similar components of the president’s recent executive actions on immigration.

Preston-Krikorian Twitter Exchange

Julia Preston, a New York Times immigration reporter, takes Krikorian to task over a misleading tweet. Seen here fact-checking Krikorian’s messaging, Preston, who has proven open-minded in the past toward CIS and its sister groups, reflects what many discover behind CIS’s glossy façade—a strident agenda that values perception management over ethical research practices.

To local media, major media outlets, and the like, Krikorian poses and composes himself as rational spokesperson who refuses to indulge incendiary language. He plays the voice of pragmatic reason: Immigrants aren’t all bad, but we are a sovereign nation of laws and our citizens must come first. Only occasionally do we see slips, moments more illustrative of the real CIS.

However, within conservative circles, Krikorian consistently speaks more freely. For example, for years he has written a blog for National Review Online, where he waxes lyrically on myriad social issues, offers his own solutions for the human quagmire that is our immigration system, and so on.

There, we witness the real Krikorian, stripped of kid gloves and polish. And what we witness is not simply incendiary – even bigoted – but often irrational and contradictory.

There, we witness the Krikorian who argues for an “Israeli-style” border fence, who insults LGBT communities, who advocates for “broken-windows” style immigration enforcement, who sometimes quotes disgraced white nationalist thinkers and scholars.

The Krikorian who in his own words is anything but “Pro-Immigrant.” The Krikorian who is genuinely more “No-Immigration, No-Immigrants.”

The misplaced relevance of, and weight given to, CIS’s research and reports was demonstrated again over the last several weeks when CIS Congressional allies called employees and board members of the organization to testify against the President’s executive action before the House Judiciary Committee. In fact, four of the eight witnesses were connected to CIS, and two others were local sheriffs with close ties to CIS’s sister organization the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Check out the timeline below and on our resource page to read Krikorian in his own words.

Aaron Flanagan is the Director of Research for the Center for New Community

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